Miguel Cabrera’s march toward the baseball record book has been placed on hold. He’ll mark his 38th birthday April 18 from the sidelines after landing on the injured list with a left biceps strain.
The 6-4, 249-pound slugger of the Detroit Tigers suffered the injury Saturday while batting in the seventh inning of an 11-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. How much time he misses will impact his chances to reach two major milestones: 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Only six players have done both: Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols and Eddie Murray, along with suspected steroids users Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez.
Cabrera needs 131 more hits for 3,000 and is just a dozen home runs shy of the 500 Home Run Club. Even before the injury, the Venezuelan first baseman had been struggling.
Although he was the first player to hit a home run once the 2021 regular season opened, he managed only three hits and three walks in his first 27 plate appearances, resulting in an anemic .514 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Cabrera has had a similar injury before. His 2018 season ended after 38 games when he ruptured a tendon.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, this mishap is not considered as serious, though the Tigers placed their star on their 10-day IL and gave his roster spot to Renato Nunez. To clear 40-man roster space for Nunez, newly-signed starting pitcher Julio Teheran, also injured during the season’s first week, was transferred to the 60-day IL.
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Used exclusively as a designated hitter last year, Cabrera was in the game as a first baseman when the injury occurred. He stayed in defensively but left for a pinch-hitter when his batting turn came up again.
Even at his advanced athletic age, Cabrera’s presence is critical to Tiger hopes of escaping the bottom of the American League Central. The team went 23-35 last year, with only the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Pittsburgh Pirates losing more often. But Cabrera led the club with 10 homers and 35 runs batted in during the virus-shortened, 60-game season.
He’s no longer the player who won consecutive MVP awards in 2012 and 2013 or the man who won baseball’s last Triple Crown, a rare feat Cabrera accomplished with 44 home runs, 139 runs batted in, and a .330 batting average eight years ago.
Cabrera’s resume also contains four batting crowns, seven Silver Sluggers, 11 trips to the All-Star Game, and a World Series ring. He’s now in his 20th season, all but the first five with the Tigers. Cabrera came to Detroit from the Miami Marlins in a seven-man swap on Dec. 4, 2007.
Easily the highest-paid player in the history of the Tigers, Cabrera will earn $30 million this season, thanks to a guaranteed eight-year, $248 million deal that keeps him in the Motor City until 2024.